night photography

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In an effort to push me out of my comfort zone and try something new, I did something that I never thought I would ever do. I left my house around 8:45 pm and drove all the way to the Shenandoah Mountains ALL BY MYSELF AT NIGHT! 

I’m not sure what got me to do this but I was just craving a new challenge and just a different type of photography than I’m used to. I say that I thought I’d never do it because I never thought I’d have the courage to go into the mountains all by myself AT NIGHT. I don’t know about you, but I get freaked out about all these animal noises I’ve never heard before. But luckily, I pulled myself through it and I am so excited to go back again for another round!

I captured these at the Jeremy’s Run Overlook (I THINK), just a few overlooks away from the Thorton Gap Entrance into Shenandoah Park. Since I got there at night, it was pretty difficult to find out a foreground element. My first idea was to try to get myself in the image. But figured it would need more light, so I had to coordinate my interior car lights with my cellphone acting like I was taking a picture of the milky way with my phone. It was a fun experiment but moved on to the most obvious foreground in front of me, this crazy branchy tree.

night photography, shenandoah national park, tree, branches, virginia, skyline drive, milky way, stars,

I am very happy with the way both of these turned out. I think in all my years of photography, I’ve only tried to capture the milky way a hand full of times. I was not so confident with my focus, but in the end, I think it turned out pretty good. *pats on the back

My camera setting for the self-portrait is F2.8 at 3.2 seconds at ISO 3200 with my Sony A7II and 35mm lens. My camera settings for the tree image are F1.8 at 13 seconds at ISO 3200 with my Sony A7II and 35mm lens.

Also, some exciting camera equipment upgrades coming soon 🙂

 

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Taken at the same time I captured this image, this was one of the first I captured from that evening.

I love how the tree branches are framing the Washington Monument. It sort of gives the whole image a creepy feeling.

I’ve heard some people say that they don’t like photographing in the winter for the exact reason, but I think photographing the trees with bare branches gives it a totally different mood that can be beautiful as well. What do you think?

Obviously photographing it in spring or fall would give it more color, but you may not be able to see the framing because of all the leaves.

My camera settings for this image are F7.1 at 2 secs at ISO 250 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens on a tripod.

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I captured this image on the same night as this image but it was also a few days after I captured this one. I obviously still have the same composition in my head but I wanted to see what it would look like during this beautiful foggy evening.

So I set up my camera the exact same way as the previous image and just waited for someone close to the Washington Monument to walk by. It took a while because it was oddly quiet for 8 pm at the National Mall, but still, I waited. I was so concentrated on finding a person in the background that I didn’t even notice a person was about to walk in front of me to create an even bigger shadow. I love the way that it turned out, especially since you can see the reflection of both shadows in the water puddle.

Now I want to know, which image do you like better? This foggy one or the image I captured early morning?

My camera settings for this are F4 at 1/30th sec and ISO 8000 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.

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So the next morning, I obviously had to wake up to check on the fog again. 

Luckily, I got to the Tidal Basin early. The fog really seemed to have rolled in overnight and you could barely see the Washington Monument anymore. I love how even though its dark on top, the sunrise colors are still shining through. Or maybe that’s just the light pollution from the city. Either way, I love how it came out.

I’m also glad that I went early because they actually start turning off the Washington Monument lights about 30 minutes before sunrise too. As soon as they turn it off, it’s almost like a dark monster in the air. It’s hard to see and even harder to photograph.

My camera settings for this image are F4 at 1 sec and ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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After a full day of rain, Andrew and I randomly decided to just go out to eat dinner. Weekdays we usually stay in and eat at home but Andrew got some good news so to celebrate, we went out. As he was finishing up some work, I was checking on the weather. I saw that we had a dense fog warning so I decided to bring my camera “just in case”.

Dinner was great. Dessert was even better. So after we were done, I suggested that we should go to the Mall to see what it looked like. I parked by the Monument and it was actually Andrew’s first time being so close. It was so weird because I had been there a million times. LOL.

Anyways, as we were walking back to the car and I decided to take one more look at the monument and I noticed that the fog and lights were creating this really cool shadow alongside the Washington Monument. I had to capture it. It was very cool to see.

My camera settings for this image are F4 at 1/30th sec and ISO 5000 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.

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So my favorite view from the Washington Monument was definitely facing west with views of the World War II Memorial, Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial. It may have been because we were there around sunset and obviously you want to be facing west, but it was the Reflecting Pool that kept on catching my eye. I couldn’t believe how still and peaceful the water looked. It literally looked like glass from above.

But out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an airplane flying by in the sky and you could see it in the reflecting pool. It was the coolest thing ever. Luckily, at that time of the night, there’s pretty much an airplane that flys by ever ten minutes. So I just waited a bit for another one to come and tried my best to capture it in the reflection.

I also love seeing all the traffic around the memorial and into Arlington, Virginia. GAH I love these elevated views. Can’t wait to go up in the Washington Monument again to capture some more!

If you have any questions about getting tickets or what it’s like up there, please feel free to let me know. I’m currently writing a guide that will explain the process.

My camera settings for this image are F4.5 at 1/30th sec and ISO 1000 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.